Supercar on tour takes in Nelson
A V8 supercar raced by the late Jason Richards was back in Nelson as part of a nationwide tour to support up and coming drivers.
Team Kiwi Racing owner David John said it was a bit sentimental to be in Nelson with the V8 Richards first raced in, which had been recently restored.
John set up TKR in 2000 to support young New Zealanders to make it on the international motorsport stage.
Nelson-born Richards was the team’s first driver.
‘‘That car we will always keep and never sell being that it was the first ever Kiwi team V8 supercar to go over and compete in the Australian Supercar championship.’’
‘‘It has opened up a huge amount of opportunities for other drivers to follow.’’
Richards died from cancer in 2011 at the age of 35.
He started in 131 V8 Supercar Championship events and 284 individual races after his debut in 2000.
He stood on the podium six times, including winning
Winton in 2006 and he was a three-time Bathurst runner-up.
John said other drivers who had been through the Team Kiwi development academy included Craig Baird, Paul Radisich and Shane van Gisbergen.
The tour around the country was one way the team raised money to support its drivers.
To run one car in the Supercar Championship cost around $5 million a year, he said.
‘‘We go out and get sponsorship, provide the cars, equipment plus we find the shortfall that a driver would usually bring to a team.’’
John said the team were preparing for a return to the Supercars Championship in Australia.
There were four development drivers who he hoped within the next year or two would be ready to compete internationally.
‘‘They have to have the right attitude, they have to be able to work in a team environment, they have to be marketable and they have to be able to drive.’’
John said Vern Walker of Nelson Bays Motor Group had been a ‘‘long time supporter’’ of Team Kiwi Racing.
Walker said it was special to have Richards’ former car in Nelson.
He said Richards was a local boy and a very successful V8 Supercar driver.
‘‘He was one of those truly charismatic people, he had a smile that would melt any block of concrete, he was a terrific guy.’’
Hunter Haley had a need for speed when he got behind the wheel of the Team Kiwi Racing race simulator at Nelson Bays Motorgroup.